Insider's Choice: Jungle Rivers of South America

The forests and rivers of South America have long enthralled the human imagination, luring explorers and settlers, stirring writers and artists, and inspiring naturalists and conservationists. And, for the adventure traveler, any shortlist of essential destinations must include the Amazon. Even repeated visits cannot lessen this pull; I've made any number of journeys down the Amazon over the past 25 years, and am still greatly excited to return in March aboard Jungle Rivers of South America.

Much of this anticipation stems from the region's renowned biodiversity. The Amazon basin contains nearly one-fifth of the world's bird species, roughly 30 monkey species, 1,800 types of butterflies, and more species of fish than the entire Atlantic Ocean.

At best, these sorts of numbers can only hint at the extravagance of life that will surround us, not just on the Amazon, but also on the other three, very distinct, rivers on our itinerary. Where some travel firms might offer trips to the Amazon, our exploration of that river marks only the beginning of our expedition. From there we proceed to the Suriname, Essequibo, and Orinoco.

As we negotiate the narrow waterways aboard ship or on Zodiac excursions, the only sounds we'll hear will be howls, chirps, hoots, and calls of the wildlife flying through the trees, lurking in the shallows, or nesting in the undergrowth. One moment, a bright blue-yellow flash will signal the arrival of a flock of macaws; in the next instant, movement in the rain forest canopy will draw your attention to a troop of howler monkeys crashing through the treetops. Perhaps you'll spy a half-submerged caiman regarding you as you drift among five-foot-wide Victoria lilies or see a silky anteater or agouti moving through the tangled fauna.

Jungle Rivers also presents an opportunity to experience one of the world's premier scenic marvels, the Essequibo's Kaieteur Falls. Over the years, I've seen every notable waterfall on the planet, and for me, Kaieteur beats them all. A few falls are wider, a very few taller, but none is more spectacular. Kaieteur truly commands the landscape as it drops 741 feet down granite cliffs in a brilliant cascade.

Also, I have never worked with a better or more qualified team of naturalists than the one we've assembled for the March departure. Among them is Jonathan Rossouw. Highly experienced, Jonathan has worked as a resident guide and conducted ornithological surveys in the South American rain forest. Clive Byers, one of Britain's celebrated bird artists and an authority on Neotropical birds, will also be with us. Like Jonathan, Clive is an all-around expert. I doubt there's a species that flies, climbs, crawls, or slithers that they can't instantly identify and expound upon.

We designed this expedition to speak to the explorer in you. Join us as we discover the compendium of wildlife scattered through one of the world's most incredible ecosystems.